“The City of Palaces”
Luxor, situated 440 miles south of Cairo on the east bank of the Nile, was the capital of Egypt during the Middle and New kingdoms, holding the seat of power for more than thirteen centuries. In antiquity, Luxor was called Thebes. Renowned Greek historian, Homer, called Thebes “the one hundred-gated city” because of its buildings and large gates. The city grew over the years, and the Arab Moslems, impressed by its beautiful palaces and huge edifices, re-named it Luxor, meaning “the city of palaces”.
Today, visitors are still awed by this city, made immortal by its huge, pillared-monuments along both banks of the Nile. Luxor is the world's greatest open-air museum filled with awe-inspiring monuments of ancient civilizations. In the east stands the City of the Living, where the life-giving sun rises; and in the west lays the City of the Dead, where the sun, in its never-ending orbit, bids farewell to life. Surrounded by modern shops and luxury hotels, the temples, tombs and palaces still stand in sandstone and granite, as symbol of the desire for immortality and eternity.
Luxor is unique among the cities of the world. A visitor can walk through history, past statues with heads of gods and animals, beneath pillars carved with lotus buds and papyrus. You can ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sail aboard a felucca, take a sunset cruise, and even see the city from a hot-air balloon! Wherever you tread, you feel you are experiencing the past and the present simultaneously. There is hardly a place in this city that does not have a relic that tells of the grandeur of the ancient Egyptians.
Sites of the East Bank
Located on the East bank of the Nile River. It is built over 1300 years beginning in the 16th century BC. It was dedicated to the Pharaoh Amun, it was the center of his worship and of his wife Mut and their son Khons. The key difference between Karnak and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which it was developed and used. There are over 25 temples and chapels in the Karnak temple complex, including separate shrines for the three boats that took the statues of the gods on their annual trip on the flooding Nile.
Located in the center of Luxor on the East bank of the Nile River. Ramses II built the pylon (the large wall in the background), two obelisks (only one remains today), and six statues of himself. “Avenue of Sphinxes” were built by Nectanebo I, and replaced the ram-headed sphinxes built by Amenhotep III. A mosque built inside the temple still exists and is one of the highlights of the site. The Temple of Luxor was built largely by Amenhotep III and Ramses II around 1400BC. Amenophis III, Ramses II, Tutankhamen, and Haremhab built the Temple of Luxor during their respective reigns.
Sites of the West Bank
Valley of the Kings
On the west bank of the Nile. It actually has two components - the East Valley and the West Valley. The East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs situated), is the most visited by tourists. The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers. The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the kings and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. It contains some 60 tombs, starting with Thutmose I and ending with Ramses X or XI. The Valley of the Kings also had tombs for the favorite nobles and the wives and children of both the nobles and pharaohs. The tomb of Tutankhamen, was discovered in 1922, which contains thousands of precious artifacts.
Also on the west bank of the Nile across the river from Thebes. The Valley of the Queens is where, not only the wives of the Pharaohs were buried, because along with the Queens of the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties many princes and princesses were also buried with various members of the nobility. Many think that one of the best tombs in Egypt, is that of Nefertari, who was the favorite wife of Ramses II. The tomb consists of seven chambers completely decorated with colorfully painted scenes portraying Nefertari as a very beautiful woman in the company of the gods.
Colossi of Memnon
Are two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. For the past 3400 years (since1350 BC) they have stood in the Theban necropolis, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. The original function of the Colossi was to stand guarding the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple. Though damaged by nature and earthquakes, the statues are still impressive. The name Memnon means "Ruler of the Dawn", and was probably applied to the colossi because of the reported cry at dawn of one of the statues. Due to an earthquake in 27 BC, it is thought and believed that after the damage the remains of the statue "sang" every morning at dawn. Visitors came from miles around to hear the music.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut is the first female pharaoh in Egyptian history. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman. This temple stands in Deir El-Bahari. The Temple was built for the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty), to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary Temple for her, as well as a sanctuary of the God, Amon Ra. The Temple consists of three imposing terraces.
Deir el Medina
The workmen who built and decorated the royal tombs used to live there. The entire village has been completely excavated. The master quarries, painters, masons and sculptures who worked on the royal tombs used to live in this village with their family. The workers used to reach the Valley of The Kings by walking each day through a mountain path which passed over the cliff of Deir el- Bahari. The remains of the village lie on the path between Deir el- Bahari and the Valley of the Queens. Almost all the houses are similar in size and design. All of them are small and share common walls. Each house used to have an entrance supported by one column from the inside. A main chamber lied behind the entrance. Stairways at the end of the chamber leads to long, vanished roof. The house were made of mud bricks, a common way of building in the Egyptian country side. The kitchen was a court behind the stairs. A visitor can see larger houses in the village. These houses used to belong to the chiefs of the crews.
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